INTERVIEW: NE-O | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Once as important a musical moment as the Christmas number one, the standout summer ‘breakaway’ hip-hop single often seemed to define that year’s culture: 1991’s good time feel represented in the sparkle of the Fresh Prince’s Summertime for example, or the introspective flower power feel of 1989’s Me Myself And I, or the funky, good time fizz of 1994’s Juicy. If you were around in those times you’ll likely remember how the summer hip-hop standout both dominated the charts and reflected the sound of the time perfectly; yet when was the last time a hip-hop track took a big swing at capturing a summer? Tinie Tempah’s 2016 Mamacita?

Picking up the bat for a swing at one of hip-hop’s greatest prizes is one-half of NE Dons, Newcastle’s NE-O, who clearly has summer in mind with the release of Seventeen, a flamenco sound-tracked moment of summer vibes and feel-good hip-hop.

It’s funny because I wrote Seventeen quite a while back,” confirms NEO, “and originally it had a different sound, but as soon as I heard the beat from Kazza, and it was covered in all of these flamenco vibes, then I had this proper inspiration to make it a summer track, and I wrote the track over the different beat and ran with it.”

I just want to get into a really good momentum, build up some radio play, and get things moving with some really strong tracks

A deliberate attempt to tap into the summer hip-hop history, the release of Seventeen has been timed not just to fit around academic studies but also to fit in with summer weather: “Seventeen has got the same lyrics as before I heard the Kazza beats, but now has a totally different vibe and I wanted this to be a stand-alone summer banger. The second I heard the flamencos I knew exactly what I wanted and the weather I wanted to sound track it with.”

Seventeen will be the fourth release from NE-O this year, finding him in a particularly fertile purple patch and growing in strength and confidence. “Because of Uni I had to stock pile some tracks knowing that I might not have much time to record new songs so I’ve been releasing them this year and they feel good,” he says. He’s also changing tack on the way he releases his music. “I’m steering away from Mixtapes and EPs at the minute, I’m just looking to put out singles, gain some momentum and then get consistent with my releases.”

Building on the sound of Seventeen, as well as this year’s momentum and radio play, don’t let the laid-back vibes of Seventeen fool you, NE-O is just getting started:There’s already a few collaborations done which should come out this year, I hope, and hopefully some NE Dons stuff later this year also, but for me I just want to get really into a really good momentum, build up some radio play, and get things moving with some really strong tracks.

NE-O releases Seventeen on 9th July. Watch his performance on NARC. TV Series 2 Episode 5 from Thursday 8th July via our YouTube channel

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